An abusive relationship usually entails far more than physical violence. It is a systematic process of devaluation, humiliation and isolation. Learn to recognize signs that your partner may be abusive. An abuser will often belittle your accomplishments or aspirations, insult you, or make “jokes” that shame or demean you. He may be jealous of friends or coworkers or want to know where you are at all times. Your partner may not allow you to go out without “permission” or prevent you from holding any money of your own. He or she may appear friendly and charming to other people, then angry and hostile when you are alone. An abuser may blame you for his angry outbursts, demand sex excessively or at inappropriate times and seek to dominate or control every aspect of the relationship. All of these are signs of abuse, above and beyond violence or physical threats.2. Acknowledge the Abuse and Resolve to End It
Victims of abuse often feel too guilty and ashamed to seek action. They may fear the possibility of life alone or worry that their partner will become even more violent if they try to leave. All of these feelings only perpetrate the cycle of violence and codependency upon which abusive relationships rely. Be compassionate towards yourself. No one deserves to be in an abusive relationship,so if you suspect that you are, then you owe it to yourself to get out as quickly and firmly as you can.3. Seek Safety
Once you have made the decision to end the relationship, do not hesitate. You are not obligated to speak to your partner or indicate your actions in any way. Your main priority is getting somewhere safe and secure. Find a reliable friend, a family member who is on your side, or a local shelter if you have nowhere else to go. It should be somewhere that your partner doesn’t know about and with someone strong and dependable to intercede in case she shows up. Once you are gone, do not return to your partner’s dwelling—send friends or the police to collect your belongings.4. Stay Away
Victims of abuse may be tempted to reinitiate contact once they are gone. Resist those urges and break off every connection to your ex-partner. This includes changing phone numbers and email addresses, refusing to return messages, and refraining from calling or otherwise making contact. If he shows up at the door, have someone else tell him to leave. If presents are sent, return them unopened. In the worst cases, you may need to go to court to file a restraining order or at least inform the police about the harassing behavior. Never hesitate to do either.5. Seek Counseling and Therapy
Abusive relationships leave wounds that do not heal just because the relationship ends. Speaking with a licensed counselor or therapist can help you come to terms with feelings of guilt or shame, strengthen your belief in yourself and accept the fact that you deserve real happiness on your own terms. It is an important final step in ending an abusive relationship, and can help ensure that you do not fall into similar relationships in the future.